The Effects of Global Warming on Marine Life

While global warming is not a new concept, the effects of it, however, are still being discovered. All sorts of people, places and creatures are affected by it, some more than others. A major area of the world that is affected is the oceans and the animals that live in them. While the full extent of the damage caused to the oceans is not fully understood, there is a general understanding of some potential changes and just how deeply they may affect marine life.

Due to global warming and the increase in carbon dioxide in the air, tropical fish are moving to cooler waters. Generally, when the weather gets warmer and the water the fish are swimming in is no longer comfortable, fish will make an effort to find water that is cooler for them to swim and live in. However, due to global warming and the increase in temperature that results from it, many fish are moving to cooler waters more permanently. This has largely negative effects on the surrounding flora and fauna as fish may consume more than they typically would if they were following their normal swimming patterns. The warmer waters are also the cause of certain species reproducing at a higher rate, meaning that there are more of these species consuming food and resources. This may result in certain resources being over consumed and affecting the fish and animals that naturally live there.

Another factor that may be affecting marine wildlife is ocean acidification. An increased pH level may cause damage to the shell structures of certain ocean life. As a result, animals use up more energy fixing their shells that they could be using to reproduce. This may result in a decrease in marine animals that are able to reproduce in the wild. An extension of the problem is also present in that increased pH in the ocean may affect the young offspring of the marine animals. This means that, even if marine animals can reproduce, there is a decreased likelihood that their offspring will grow old enough and correctly enough to reproduce. This would further throw natural ecosystems into disarray as the marine life that would naturally be living in one area would be replaced with marine life that does not naturally live in one area.

A further negative effect of warmer temperatures and acidification would be the effect it has on coral reefs. Increases in ocean temperatures and pH levels may cause an increase in coral bleaching. While coral bleaching does not mean that the coral will die right away, it does mean that the coral is under more stress and is more likely to perish due to external forces. While coral bleaching and, by extension, coral death may seem like it only affects the coral, it in actuality affects a larger range of marine species. Corals are home to a larger ecosystem that include all different forms of marine life. If large groups of coral die off, large amounts of marine life that depend on the coral will die off as well. This would greatly affect not only the fish living in that one particular ecosystem, but it may also affect ecosystems in close proximity to the dead ecosystem.Overall the effects of global warming can change ecosystems on both a large and small scale. Because of this it is incredibly important that changes be made and problems be solved before the damage is irreversible and the planet is changed forever.

About Mr. Mohn

Biology Teacher

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